Stephen Colbert’s ‘thank you’ for the pain of grief

Colbert, the youngest of 11 siblings, lost his father and two teenage brothers Peter and Paul in a plane crash near Charlotte, North Carolina on September 11, 1974. He was only 10 years old then.

“It’s such a cliff, I fell off emotionally, mentally and spiritually at that age,” he said.

Cooper was also 10 years old when he lost his father in 1978, aged 50, to a heart attack. Ten years later, Cooper’s brother, Carter died by suicide.

Colbert told Cooper that the loss of his father and brothers had “broken” his and his mother’s lives, but not “destroyed” them. “Existence is a gift,” Colbert told Cooper, “and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that, but if you’re grateful for your life, you have to be grateful for all of it.”

Colbert said, “You can’t win against grief because you’re the one doing it to you. Grief itself is a natural process to go through.”

Cooper admitted that he always assumed he would be dead by age 50, like his father. He was afraid that if he had children, they would grow up without a father.

After being He turned 50 and his doctor assured him he was in good health, Cooper said it felt safer to have children. He now has two young sons, Wyatt and Sebastian.

Colbert also said that because he had never lived with his father for more than 10 years, he saw his mortality at the ages of his three children and said he would constantly do “that horrible math all the time” out of fear. each would die as they approached age 10.

Colbert has learned to accept his losses, but describes his grief as “like living with a beloved tiger. He can surprise you, he can pounce on you. And he can really hurt you, but he’s my tiger, and he’s going to live. As long as I do.”

Colbert advised Cooper, who said he is trying to understand his pain, to talk about his loved ones and share their life stories. Instead of thinking of grief as a depression trap, Colbert said she tries to see it as a door, “because you’ll be a different person on the other side.”

Since his podcast debuted last week, Cooper has received thousands of messages from listeners writing about their loss journeys and why it’s so important to finally speak out about it.

New episodes of CNN’s All There Is with Anderson Cooper are available Wednesdays on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Megan Marcus is an executive producer for CNN Audio.